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Using a credit card in Australia
Australia is among the rare countries where you can use plastic to pay for almost anything — even your taxi ride.
Visa and Mastercard are the most commonly used credit cards Down Under, but many merchants will accept American Express too. This widespread acceptance of all major credit cards means you’ve got plenty of choices when it comes to paying with plastic. Although cards are widely accepted, you’ll want to carry at least some cash on you just in case. Luckily, ATMs are easy to find across Australia, although you’ll struggle to find them in more remote areas.
Compare credit cards for use in Australia
Which credit cards are accepted in Australia?
Mastercard and Visa branded credit cards are the most widely accepted, however many merchants around Australia also accept American Express branded cards. As always, it’s a good idea to carry at least some cash on you at all times.
Common credit card fees to watch out for
When using your credit card overseas, watch out for the following fees:
- Foreign transaction fees. Typically costing 2.5% of the total transaction, this fee is charged when you use your credit card overseas. If you’re looking to avoid this fee, it is possible to find a credit card that charges no foreign transaction fees.
- Currency conversion fees. If a merchant offers to charge your card in Canadian dollars, politely decline – always choose the local currency. If you end up paying for a purchase in Canadian dollars, the transaction will be subject to what is known as a dynamic currency conversion (DCC). You will likely face a currency conversion fee and a less competitive exchange rate.
Do taxis accept credit cards?
Yes, but you may pay a 5% surcharge for the convenience. You could also use a rideshare service like Uber, which is often cheaper and accept credit card payments through the app.
Should I use my credit card to get cash?
Avoid using your credit card to get cash unless it’s an absolute emergency. Withdrawing cash using your credit card will leave you paying a cash advance transaction fee as well as the cash advance interest rate. This rate is charged from the day you withdraw the cash and will be charged daily until you pay back the withdrawn amount in full – there is no grace period for this type of transaction.
So, how do I get cash?
Use your debit card to withdraw money from an ATM if possible. Although you’ll likely incur an ATM fee of around $2.50 to $5 each time you withdraw cash, you can avoid the excruciatingly high interest rates that come with using a credit card.
If you’re looking to avoid ATM fees altogether, look for a bank that belongs to an international ATM alliance such as Scotiabank. Through this alliance, you can use your debit card at specific brands of ATMs free of charge.
Is it safe to use my credit card in Australia?
Yes. Even so, you should take the same precautions as you would elsewhere in the world.
- Use ATMs inside a bank. Your chances of encountering a skimming device are often much lower at a bank, and on the off chance your card gets trapped inside the ATM machine, you can easily get help to get it back. It’s also safer to withdraw cash inside an enclosed area as opposed to an open ATM on the street.
- Take two credit cards. If something happens to one of your credit cards, you can rely on the second to avoid being left without money. If you’re using an American Express card, it’s best to take a Visa or Mastercard as well since they are more widely accepted.
- Keep your card in sight. When paying with your card, keep an eye on it until it’s safely returned. This can save you from credit card fraud and scams.
How should I prepare for my trip to Australia?
Before you head to Australia, prepare for your trip by avoiding any potential problems.
- Look for a card that charges no foreign transaction fees. Consider applying for a credit card that waives the foreign transaction fee. This will save you a great deal of money – usually 2.5% – especially if you use your credit card a lot overseas.
- Have a back up card. Always travel with at least two credit cards. If one gets lost or stolen, you’ll have your backup card to access money whenever you need it. It’s best to travel with two different brands of cards too, just in case one isn’t accepted by a merchant.
- Let your bank know of your travels. Banks and credit card providers will temporarily block cards if they detect unusual activity, like an unexpected transaction from Australia. Contacting your bank and getting your card unblocked can be a hassle, so inform your bank or credit card provider before you board the plane.
- Keep important phone numbers close. You never know when you might need to report a lost or stolen credit card. Write down your credit card providers phone number in case you have any issues while overseas.
- Know where you’ll take out cash. You can use your debit card to withdraw money from an ATM or convert your Canadian dollars at a bank or currency exchange kiosk.
Using a credit card in …
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